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I am so excited to welcome one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction back to Diary of an Eccentric today. Joana Starnes is here to celebrate the release of The Darcy Legacy, which I’m hoping to read very soon. Please give her a warm welcome!

Many thanks, Anna, for welcoming me here today on the blog tour for my new book, The Darcy Legacy.

As I’ve mentioned before, this novel has rather less angst and a lot more banter compared to my other ones. The two people we have to thank for that – or rather the two culprits – are Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr Bennet.

Photo: BBC

These two gentlemen are such fun to write, especially because neither of them is willing to take Darcy very seriously, and certainly not as seriously as he takes himself.

The colonel knows his cousin like the back of his hand, and at all times knows exactly how to deconstruct Darcy’s ever so careful reasoning.

As for Mr Bennet, he poses a very different challenge to our favourite hero: Mr Bennet is The Figure of Authority – and submitting to authority doesn’t come easily to Darcy, not anymore. He has been his own man ever since his father’s death, and has had to obey no will but his own. This is no longer the case. Now he has to deal with one who has the ‘power of veto.’

Elizabeth isn’t of age yet, parental consent is needed for them to marry, and Darcy simply can’t afford to get on the wrong side of Mr Bennet.

The added difficulty is that they’re very different people, who react in very different ways to the world around them. Darcy is conscientious, serious-minded and punctilious to a fault. Mr Bennet tends to make a joke of everything. And chances are that Darcy isn’t likely to regard his courtship as a joke.

So… now I’d like to share a particular interview. Hope you and your readers will enjoy it. Let me set the scene: Mr Darcy has just landed himself in deep water (if you had a peek at the excerpt in my guest post at Austenesque Reviews on Jul 2, you’ll know what I mean 😉 ). Some crisis management is in order – urgently. To put it in modern parlance, Mr Darcy has to ‘fess up.

Hope you’ll enjoy the conversation between Elizabeth’s father and her suitor. I must admit I had great fun writing it.

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An excerpt from The Darcy Legacy

Mr Bennet was in the library, as expected, in his customary place at the farthest end of the large and pretentiously ornamented room. […] Darcy bowed his head in lieu of any other greeting, then instead of joining the older gentleman in his corner, he turned to feign some interest in the nearest bookcase. He had not lost his courage – not as such. The firmness of purpose with which he had embarked upon the mortifying and potentially hazardous endeavour was still with him. However, the ability to choose his words was not.

Darcy struggled to regain it as he stared through narrowed eyes at the shelves before him, seeing nothing but a countenance aflame with the deepest blush and a pair of fine eyes alight with indignation.

‘… this morning brought one disgrace too many, and you should not be here. If neither I nor your own conscience can make you see that my quarters are out of bounds, then you shall have to hear it from my father.’

Disgrace, she had called it, her lips curling in distaste.

“Imbecile,” Darcy hissed under his breath. Yet apparently he was not sufficiently quiet, for his companion looked up from his book again.

“Sir?” Mr Bennet queried. “Did you say something?”

“No, nothing,” Darcy dissembled, then felt compelled to add, “I beg your pardon, I was…”

He let his voice trail off, reluctant to finish his sentence and acknowledge that he was talking to himself. He walked along the book-lined wall, retraced his steps when he reached the corner of the room, and before long what had begun as an aimless amble turned into steadily pacing back and forth.

The fact that his current employment had gained him Mr Bennet’s full attention escaped Darcy’s notice. He did not mutter as he paced but, lips pursed, he proceeded from hissed

invectives to a silent and grim analysis of his performance. Naught but blunder after blunder, and idiotic ones at that. Ambushing her in her quarters. Pressing his suit when she was clearly uncomfortable and most unwilling to have that conversation – and thus compounding the dreadful blunders of the morning. His proposal, seasoned with talk of their disparities – her connections – Lady Catherine. The unhinged mutterings that followed. […] It was little wonder she thought him suffering from sunstroke or the like. And despite his ill-judged remarks on her station in life, she had stayed to watch over him – had shown him concern and kindness. Why the devil could he not respond in kind? He might have helped her to her feet – might have reworded his proposal in a gentlemanlike manner, instead of—

Yet even then, for all the self-reproaches, his breath caught as he revisited those glorious moments in the grove. Her warm weight in his arms. Her enticing form draped over him, pressed against him. Soft flesh under his fingertips, under a thin layer of muslin. Soft lips under his. Her startled gasp when she had held her breath, only to release it in a rush and let it wash over his face, sweet, fragrant and warm, driving him to distraction. Compelling him to kiss her again. And she had kissed him back. She had! Surely, he had not lost his senses to the point of imagining that. She had closed her eyes and kissed him back.

“Spoilt for choice, Mr Darcy?” Mr Bennet suddenly asked, making him start.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You seem to have some difficulty in selecting a book. Were you looking for something in particular?”

“Yes. No, I mean…” Inwardly cursing his newly-acquired propensity to babble, Darcy squared his shoulders. “May I join you?” he brought himself to say.

“By all means, feel free. Find yourself a good book and a glass, if you are so inclined. The port is here, but look in the customary place if you favour brandy over port, or anything in between,” Mr Bennet said, gesturing towards the decanter at his right, and then in the vague direction of the marble-topped dresser where the drinks were kept.

Darcy nodded his thanks and ambled towards the older gentleman’s end of the room, stopping along the way to pour himself a brandy. He chose a chair, moved it a little closer to Mr Bennet and angled it in his direction, then sat, glass in hand. He did not drink, and he likewise disdained the subterfuge of opening a book and feigning interest in it as he chose his words. He shifted in his seat and crossed his legs. He tugged at his neckcloth – tied too damnably tight when he had attempted to make himself presentable upon his return to the house – then crossed his legs the other way.

Across the small distance between them, Mr Bennet looked up to cast him a half-amused, half-exasperated glance.

“Is there anything troubling you, sir?”

“I— Yes,” Darcy acknowledged. “I came to speak to you, if you can spare the time. There is something I must say.”

“Is there? Very well. My time is yours, Mr Darcy, and seemingly in limitless supply,” Mr Bennet evenly replied, closing his book and setting it aside. Then he refilled his glass, raised it amicably towards the other, took a sip and motioned him to begin.

Darcy raised his own glass and drained it. Mr Bennet chortled.

“That bad?” he mildly remarked. “By all means, pour yourself another, if you find yourself in need of a few more drops of Dutch courage.”

“I thank you, no. I had better get on with it.”

“Pray do. So, what did you come to speak of?”

Wishing he had made due offerings to all the gods that endowed one with eloquence, Darcy straightened in his seat.

“I came to ask— No, that is— Hm! Mr Bennet, I… er… I feel you should hear it from me that this morning I kissed your daughter,” he said at last, only to mentally kick himself for the abysmally blunt delivery. He braced himself for the repercussions. But Mr Bennet folded his hands around his glass of port and airily asked:

“Oh. Did you? Which one? I have five.”

“Elizabeth,” came Darcy’s crisp reply, as he fought to suppress a scowl at the untimely levity.

“Elizabeth, eh?” the other echoed, a quirk in his brow. “Am I to understand you are here to ask for my consent?”

“No, sir.”

“No? You puzzle me, Mr Darcy. Precisely why are you here, then? I daresay you are not concerned that I might call you out to settle the matter. But,” he added, all lightness of tone freezing under a layer of smooth menace, “if you imagine I shall sit idly by and allow you to trifle with my Lizzy’s affections—”

“Of course not!” Darcy forcefully cut him off. “I would not.”

“Then pray enlighten me as to your intentions. In my day, they were clearly stated before one progressed to taking liberties.”

Darcy’s eyes narrowed. The interview would be as difficult as he had anticipated. Submitting to authority did not come easily when that habit was long lost. It was even harder now, when he knew himself in the wrong – a distinctly unfamiliar experience – and when faced with one whose manner differed so drastically from his own. In every dealing and every circumstance, especially one as momentous as this, he would have chosen plain-speaking and serious-minded discourse. Predictably, Mr Bennet seemed to favour irony and archness.

Darcy did not pause to consider that the very same traits he unquestionably adored in Elizabeth must have had their origins in the older gentleman’s manner; that she must have learned levity and archness at his knee. It was too vexing an experience to find himself so

flippantly questioned – and worse still, to know that, however aggravating the approach, the inquisitor must be courteously indulged, for he was the one with the power of veto. So he fought the urge to bristle at the reference to liberties, and opted for a placating tone.

“I would have stated them already, sir. But I thought it only proper to do your daughter the courtesy of applying for her consent before seeking yours.”

The other tilted his head sideways, by way of concurrence.

“I take it then that you have not proposed,” he observed.

Darcy frowned.

“I began to. But matters got out of hand.”

“How?” Mr Bennet asked, and took another sip of his port, skewering Darcy with a steady glance that joined forces with his current conundrum to make him squirm.

“This morning I sought your daughter out with the intention of offering for her. But before I could finish,” he summarised, “I am sorry to say that—” He stopped short, recognising the falsehood for what it was, even before the forbidden recollections flashed through his overwrought senses. Not sorry, not that! He was all manner of things – mortified beyond endurance to find himself in the wrong, positively terrified of what she might have made of it, but certainly not sorry. “I am compelled to own,” he amended, “that halfway through my garbled proposal, I kissed her.”

“I see. Must I conclude that she was not best-pleased?”

Darcy looked away. It was the wrong time and place to resurrect the aforementioned forbidden recollections – here and now, in the middle of a conversation with her father. Yet therein lay the answer to Mr Bennet’s question, and to his own tormenting doubt. Did she take exception? Her gasp – it had not signified shock or outrage, had it? Just surprise, surely. She had kissed him back – tangled her fingers in his hair. The outrage came later. Much later. Yet still too soon by far.

“I do not know,” he truthfully replied at last. “Before the matter was decided, we were interrupted. The curate—”

Mr Bennet straightened in his chair, and his gaze took undertones of steel.

“Are you telling me that her reputation is at stake and she would be expected to marry you regardless of her wishes? That will not come to pass, sir,” he declared with unprecedented sternness.

Darcy’s response was just as fierce.

“You may be assured I will not force her hand.”

“A wise choice,” Mr Bennet remarked, the sternness barely mellowed by a fraction. Then he added, “I will have a word with Mr Whittaker. He is a sensible man, or at least more sensible than Mr Collins. He will heed me if I ask him to keep his mouth shut.”

Darcy gave a quick gesture of impatience.

“He has already agreed to hold his peace for now. That is not the reason I came to see you.”

“Is it not? Then I am compelled to ask again: why exactly are you here?”

Before he could even begin to examine what force might have propelled him to his feet, Darcy found himself striding towards the bookcase behind him. He raised both hands to run his fingers through his hair and spoke without turning.

“Because I love her! I love your daughter with all my heart and soul, yet I seem to do nothing but antagonise her.”

“Ah,” was all that Mr Bennet said, and by necessity rather than choice Darcy saw fit to turn around and face him.

He saw the older gentleman easing himself forward in his seat to reach for both glasses. He diligently filled them, then set the port decanter down and motioned towards the drinks. Darcy shook his head. With a little shrug, Mr Bennet retrieved his and took a measured sip

“Am I to understand that you wish me to teach you how to court my daughter?” he asked with a mild and not unfriendly smile.

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Hmm, I wonder how that would go. “Listen up, Mr Darcy: Lesson 1…”

And now it’s GIVEAWAY TIME!

The giveaway is international. Please follow the link to the RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY and enter until the end of Monday, 16 Jul 2018 (midnight Pacific) for a chance to win one of the 10 Kindle versions of The Darcy Legacy, one of the 20 Audible codes with which you can listen for free to your choice of Stevie Zimmerman’s exquisite productions of my other books, or a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Many thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll like The Darcy Legacy.

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About The Darcy Legacy

Pemberley’s ancient halls harbour many secrets. Which one will affect Fitzwilliam Darcy and the love of his life? How is Mr Bennet to enjoy the comforts of a well-stocked library, when his wife’s premature demise had left him with the task of finding suitable matches for their daughters? What of a misleading encounter on a muddy lane in Hertfordshire, that renders a country-town assembly rather more tolerable than some might have thought?

Shades of mystery, meddlesome relations – not least a drenched Adonis – raillery, old errors and a very recent union make for a challenging courtship when Fitzwilliam Darcy is not on his own ground. Yet when love is the reward, challenges make it more worth the earning. “A fraught courtship? So, let it be fraught,” Colonel Fitzwilliam said with a nonchalant flourish of his hand. “A good challenge never hurt anyone.”’

Buy The Darcy Legacy on Amazon

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About the Author

Joana Starnes

Joana Starnes lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats – physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst – but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine.

She is the author of eight Austen-inspired novels: From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley, The Subsequent Proposal, The Second Chance, The Falmouth Connection, The Unthinkable Triangle, Miss Darcy’s Companion, Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter and The Darcy Legacy, and one of the contributing authors to The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know and the upcoming Rational Creatures (due in October 2018).

Connect with Joana:

www.joanastarnes.co.uk
www. facebook.com/AllRoadsLeadToPemberley.JoanaStarnes/
www.facebook.com/joana.a.starnes
www.twitter.com/Joana_Starnes

Joana’s books on Amazon.com
Joana’s books on Amazon.co.uk
Joana’s books on Goodreads

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July 2 / Austenesque Reviews/Excerpt Post & Giveaway

July 3 / Diary of an Eccentric/ Guest Post & Giveaway

July 4 / More Agreeably Engaged/ Book Review & Giveaway

July 5 / Of Pens & Pages / Guest Post & Giveaway

July 6 / So Little Time… So Much to Read/ Guest Post & Giveaway

July 7 / My Love for Jane Austen / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

July 8 / Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway

July 9 / My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway

July 10/ Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway

July 11 / Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway

July 12 / Just Jane 1813/ Tour Finale & Giveaway

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Thank you, Joana! It’s always a pleasure to have you as a guest, and congratulations on The Darcy Legacy!

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